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Trip Report Craig & Jeane 2010 Trip Report: Varanasi, Udaipur & Aurangabad + Bangkok

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By way of introduction, Jeane and I are experienced travelers in our mid-50's. Our first trip to Asia was Thailand in 2000. With a couple of exceptions, we have returned to Asia 2-1/2 weeks at a time, each year since then. We have visited Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bali and Vietnam. Our first trip to India was in 2005. While it was a good first exposure to India, we barely scratched the surface of this huge country, visiting Delhi, Jaipur, Agra and Ranthambore (Park). We knew that if we did nothing else in India, we needed to return to visit the holy city of Varanasi. Since almost all of our Asian trips have begun or ended in Bangkok, I started our planning this year by looking at the daily Thai Airways flight between Bangkok and Varanasi. The flight operates in the winter months only, so it worked out for us in February. Based on the experiences of a couple of other prominent Fodorites - Kathie and dogster, we decided to add 8 days in Nepal to our itinerary and finish up with 3 days in Bangkok. It was not to be – about a month before we were scheduled to depart, we started to hear about frequent strikes or “bandhs” that were occurring regularly all over the country. During these strikes, areas of Nepal were effectively shut down – no commerce, no taxi's, no services. We heard about protesters stationed at key intersections setting cars of those that did not honor the strike on fire. We heard about tourists unable to make it to the airport. We decided to change our plans at pretty much the last minute.

Since we already had our visas, the logical thing to do was to explore more of India. After considering airfares and times and consulting with the helpful folks on this board, we decided to substitute Udaipur and Aurangabad for Nepal. For the most part, it worked out well. However, our itinerary now had 13 sets of take-offs and landings over 17 days. While it was good that the number of take-offs and landings turned out to be equal, it was way too much time in airports. I'll go into all the gory details as this trip report unfolds...

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